Wheelchair-bound hax0r extorts via webcam backdoors

Wow, this is like a fictionalization of every "don't click on attachments" warning you've ever read. Obviously you know how this happened, but I haven't read about someone being busted for doing it on a such a large scale before.

How an omniscient Internet "sextortionist" ruined the lives of teen girls

In the spring of 2009, a college student named Amy received an instant message from someone claiming to know her. Certainly, the person knew something about her--he was able to supply details about what her bedroom looked like and he had, improbably, nude photos of Amy. He sent the photos to her and asked her to have "Web sex" with him.

Instead, Amy contacted her boyfriend Dave, who had been storing the naked photos on his own computer. The two students exchanged instant messages about Amy's apparent stalker, trying to figure out what had happened. Soon after the exchange, each received a separate threat from the man. He knew what they had just chatted about, he warned, and they were not to take their story to anyone, including the police.

Amy, terrified by her stalker's eerie knowledge, contacted campus police. Officers were dispatched to her room, where they took down Amy's story and asked her questions about the incident. Soon after, Dave received more threats from the stalker because Amy had gone to the police--and the stalker knew exactly what she had said to them.

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People of Earth: Come see Chromatics tonight at DNA Lounge.

It is rare that we have live shows at DNA Lounge these days, and far rarer that they are bands that I give a shit about.

Tonight is one of those shows. You should come.

That is all.

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Location: DNA Lounge
Current Music: as noted

Some water towers just want to watch the world burn.

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Current Music: iamamiwhoami -- b ♬

TSA Agent Threatens Woman With Defamation, Demands $500k For Calling Intrusive Search 'Rape'

I feel safer already:

Amy Alkon is an advice columnist and blogger who is just one of many people who has had a horrifying and traumatizing experience going through airport security lately. After being pulled aside for an "enhanced" search, she found the process to be so invasive and so in violation of her own rights that she was left sobbing. [...]

After investigating whether or not she could file sexual assault charges, and being told that this was probably a non-starter, she instead wrote about the experience, and named the TSA agent who she dealt with: Thedala Magee. Alkon felt that if people can't stop these kinds of searches, they should at least be able to name the TSA agents who are doing them.

Magee responded by lawyering up and threatening Alkon with defamation and asking for $500,000 and the removal of the blog post.

Alkon, with the help of lawyer Marc Randazza, has now responded, refusing to back down.

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Today in Computational Necromancy

Remember that guy who built a Cray-1A out of FPGAs? One of the problems he had was that, after recreating the hardware, he had access to no software to run on it, including the OS.

Well, someone sent him an old Cray drive pack and enclosure! Fantastic! Only a few problems:

The sound-foam inside had decayed into moving-part-hating dust...

And it was full of spiders...

And also wasps.

His paper is here: "Digital Archaeology with Drive-Independent Data Recovery: Now With More Drive Dependence!" I hope the irony is not lost on you that an almost-entirely-textual paper about an insanely difficult data-recovery problem is presented -- by archive.org of all people -- as a slideshow of images of scanned pages of non-OCR'ed text, in a horrid-to-use custom Javascript "reader".

No, really. We're utterly, utterly doomed.

I especially enjoy how the URLs in the footnotes are blue and underlined, despite being unclickable.

To put an enticing pull-quotes in here, I'd have to actually re-type them. Forgive me if I don't bother. TL/DR: He couldn't get any of the drive electronics working, and instead built a custom stepper-motor robot to move the read-heads in sub-track increments, then pulled off 8+ analog scans of each track, saved that raw data, and plans to re-digitize it all in software, deciding which streams are the tracks and which are inter-track noise statistically. After that comes the task of trying to turn a set of concentric rings of bits back into a file system.

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Gunther von Häagen-Dazs

Previously, previously, previously.

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Today in Geoengineering news

Giant pipe and balloon to pump water into the sky in climate experiment

Before the full-sized system can be deployed, the research team will test a scaled-down version of the balloon-and-hose design. Backed by a --1.6m government grant and the Royal Society, the team will send a balloon to a height of 1km over an undisclosed location. It will pump nothing more than water into the air, but it will allow climate scientists and engineers to gauge the engineering feasibility of the plan. Ultimately, they aim to test the impact of sulphates and other aerosol particles if they are sprayed directly into the stratosphere.

If the technical problems posed by controlling a massive balloon at more than twice the cruising height of a commercial airliner are resolved, then the team from Cambridge, Oxford, Reading and Bristol universities expect to move to full-scale solar radiation tests.

The luddites, of course, would prefer that no research be done at all:

"What is being floated is not only a hose but the whole idea of geo-engineering the planet. This is a huge waste of time and money and shows the UK government's disregard for UN processes. It is the first step in readying the hardware to inject particles into the stratosphere. It has no other purpose and it should not be allowed to go ahead," said Pat Mooney, chair of ETC Group in Canada, an NGO that supports socially responsible development of technology.

Mike Childs, head of science, policy and research at Friends of the Earth UK, said: "We are going to have to look at new technologies which could suck CO2 out of the air. But we don't need to do is invest in harebrained schemes to reflect sunlight into space when we have no idea at all what impact this may have on weather systems around the globe."

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movies

I had forgotten how great eXistenZ is. For a movie about multi-player VR games that came out in '99, it holds up surprisingly well.

And it reminds me, again, how much I hated Inception.

Also recently viewed:

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, which I last saw when I was like 8, is far, far weirder than I remembered. It's two and a half hours long, is basically three different movies, and the Child Catcher character is even creepier than I remembered. Much like Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, the songs suck. Roald Dahl must have had a seriously hellish and possibly drug-addled childhood.

The Dark Crystal -- my fond memories of this were completely misplaced. This movie is terrible. It's slooooow, the plot is idiotic, and the creature design is not really that interesting.

I don't really recommend this as a triple bill.

Previously, previously.

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